Well me fesser le cul, France is starting this week! And, with Gabriel taking the last two events back-to-back, everyone is watching to see if he can domesticate the Flying Crack Fox Toledo. The crazy thing is, France is probably Gabby’s favourite event on tour. He’s won 2 out of the last 3 years, made the final 4 out of the last 5 years, and, in the other piddly attempt, still made the quarters. If there’s a surer thing in surfing than Gabby doing well in France, it’s Pottz saying ‘ya know’ after reminiscing about back when he was on tour.

Bearing that in mind (plus a Filipe-friendly forecast for the event window) and we’ve got a major showdown on our hands. Here’s a look at whether you should add those freaks to your fantasy surfer team, plus an analysis of the other contenders for the 2018 Quiksilver Pro France…

Tier A - Two Pearls, One Cup

We’ve already established that Medina dominates this event harder than Mikey Wright dominates the wildest mullet on your contest. If you don’t put him in your team then, in my professional opinion, you’re off your tits. Highest likelihood of high scores comes from Gabby, almost for sure.

Next, Filipe. His record compared to Gabby’s looks like a piece of white dog shit next to a diamond. His best result here is a quarterfinal finish (Gabby’s worst, remember), while 2 out of the last 3 years he’s been knocked out in round 2. However, the forecast is looking like it’s going to be 1-2ft for most of the window, mayyyybe up to shoulder to head high. If there was ever a time when the surf gods have been smiling on Holy Toledo, it’s now. Thanks God. Considering current form, he should be in your team.

So who else is in this tier that might go well? For me, that’s Italo and Kolohe. Italo has been ripping this year and, if he can make it through round three, is deadly as events get to the pointy end. Kolohe has a surprisingly good record in France too. In fact, he’s made the semis the last 2 years running.

Guys to avoid are Julian Wilson, who’s more up and down than a yo-yo on a pogo stick; Owen Wilson and Jordy Smith who, as the two giants on tour, will struggle in the smaller waves; and K-Mart Jesus, who has been Piping Hot in the last few events, but simply isn’t a show against guys like Medina and Toledo.

So, in short. Medina and Toledo as your prize stallions. Kolohe and Italo as your dark horses.

Tier B - Young Bulls vs Old Balls

While tier A feels fairly easy to pick, this section is a bit more like a magic 8 ball’s favourite statement – outlook unclear.

There are definitely crew who look like they should nail things, especially considering recent form. Kanoa Igarashi has been rock solid and is amazing in smaller waves. He can also hunt barrels if Hossegor cooperates to deliver some of its signature hairy pits. Sebastian Zietz was tearing at Surf Ranch and also has a reasonable record in France, including a 2nd place against Gabby last year. Yago Dora has back-to-back 9ths in the last two events and considering the forecast could be pulling some wild airs.

Then, there’s the guys you’d normally think of in France – Ace Buchan as a past champ, Adriano De Souza as someone always to watch, and Joel Parko, who has won here before and made quarters just last year. Sometimes it’s good to go with proven quantities, but it feels like a proper changing of the guard is happening this year and I just can’t see these older guys getting back to old tricks.

My money, then, is going with some younger blood. Kanoa and Yago yes, but Griffin Pinacolada and Connor O’Leary too. Griffin because he’s one of my favourite guys in the world to watch right now and O’Leary because he 100% deserves to be on tour and needs a big result to ensure 2019 is in the big leagues. Michael Rodriquez is another maybe, but he fairly sucked at Surf Ranch and really hasn’t done much the last three events in a row.

So, in short, I’d go with: Kanoa, Seabass, Yago and Colada as your prize stallions. O’Leary, Rodriguez and maybe Ace as your dark horses.

Tier C - French Roulette

Surprisingly, there is quite a bit of opportunity in this tier. First up is 2016 event champ Keanu Asing (who happened to win in small waves). This little nugget laps up little lefts like a starved kitten does crack-milk. The only thing holding me back from saying he’s a walk up start is that there’s other talent that could rise up…

Miguel Pupo has wildcarded his way into this event. He was super impressive at Surf Ranch and made quarters in France last year, taking out guys like Filipe and De Souza along the way. There’s also fellow Brazilian Ian Gouveia, who suits punchy beach breaks and will have the extra hunger to qualify after a big result. There’s even Matty Wilko, who after two insane years on tour seems back to hot and cold results. He’s been mostly cold in 2018, so maybe is ready for a flare up to blazing form.

Patty G is pretty crazy in small waves, and Jesse Mendes is another who seems due for a good result. All-in-all there’s no one single two guys who really stand out as the must haves. I’m going with Keanu and Miggy mostly because of past form, but I’m far from confident they’re the very best picks.

In short: Keanu and Miggy Pupo. Dark Horse options Ian Gouveia and Matty Wilko.

Fantasy Surfer Guide - France 2018

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Images via:: WSL